The Evening Blues - 4-13-21


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: The Larks

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features r&b singing group The Larks. Enjoy!

The Larks - Eyesight To The Blind

"One cannot wage war under present conditions without the support of public opinion, which is tremendously molded by the press and other forms of propaganda."

-- Douglas MacArthur

News and Opinion

Media Concern Trolling About Afghanistan Withdrawal Again

Concerns mount that US withdrawal from Afghanistan could risk progress on women’s rights,” blares a new headline from CNN.

“Concerns are mounting from bipartisan US lawmakers and Afghan women’s rights activists that the hard-won gains for women and civil society in Afghanistan could be lost if the United States makes a precipitous withdrawal from the country,” CNN tells us.

What follows is yet another concern-trolling empire blog about why US troops need to stay in Afghanistan, joining recent others geared toward the same end like this CNN report about how the US military will open itself up to “costly litigation” if it withdraws now because it signed defense industry contracts into 2023, and this one by The New York Times about a US intelligence report urgently warning that a withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to the nation being controlled by the people who live there.

This latest article by CNN features an extensive series of quotes by Annie Pforzheimer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank regurgitating the tired old mantra that a withdrawal from Afghanistan needs to be “conditions-based”, to ensure that no women will be mistreated if the US ends its twenty-year military occupation of the country.

CSIS, for the record, is funded by war profiteering corporations like Northrop Grumman and Boeing, as well as fossil fuel companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco. It is also funded by plutocrats. It is also funded directly by the United States government and its allies. This article is precisely the sort of narrative management initiative that such think tanks exist for, and the fact that it’s considered normal journalistic practice to quote sources with such blatant ulterior motives as objective experts shows that western news media is propaganda.

When think tankers like Pforzheimer babble about a “conditions-based withdrawal” from Afghanistan, they are lying about what the requisite “conditions” would actually be. A complete and total withdrawal will have nothing to do with whether women are guaranteed to be treated nicely. It will have nothing to do with whether defense contractors will sue the US government or whether the Taliban will be able to retake control of the nation. A complete and total withdrawal from Afghanistan will happen when Afghanistan ceases to be a vital geostrategic point of control, which effectively means the US will maintain some sort of foothold in Afghanistan for as long as China, Russia and Iran remain sovereign nations.

A US puppet regime in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran. If that somehow happens one day, the empire will have no further use for Afghanistan. Those are the real “conditions”.

The US empire does not care about women. The US empire routinely kills women and creates lawless environments where rape and sexual slavery are commonplace with its military interventionism. What this hand-wringing about women’s rights in Afghanistan has actually accomplished is a convenient justification for further military occupation, a destructive industry of shady NGOs, and functionally not much else.

But this argument wouldn’t even make sense if it was sincere. The only way to argue with logical coherence that the US should militarily occupy a nation to uphold liberal values is to also argue that the US should invade and occupy all other nations in the world with illiberal cultural values and force them all to change at gunpoint. Unless you uphold this argument with logical consistency in this way (and almost nobody does this because that would be insane), it looks like you’re simply making up arguments to justify invading and occupying geostrategically crucial regions with great military and resource value. And, of course, this is exactly what you are doing.

So much empire propaganda is just concern trolling at mass scale. Oh my it sure is concerning how they’re abusing that poor oppressed population in that nation whose government we just so happen to want to topple. Sure we’d have to butcher mountains of human beings and destabilize entire vast regions in order to rescue them, but that’s a sacrifice we’d be willing to make. We are humanitarians, after all.

"Concern” is the propaganda carrier for the most violent of interventions. If imperialism was a virus, “concern” would be the benign-looking shape it took so the body didn’t set off an immune response. “Concern” is the most Karen of manipulations.

Still it says a lot that they need to tug at our humanitarian heart strings like that in order to advance their empire-building agendas these days. It used to be stuff like “They’re savages and they need to learn about Jesus,” or even just “Your King has decreed that those people shouldn’t get to control the land they live on anymore.”

We’ve evolved as a society to the point where at least now they need to appeal to our better demons. Where they need to hide their disgusting agendas behind noble-looking ones.

Russia-Ukraine border tension builds up as NATO, G7 warns Moscow over possible full-scale conflict

Military buildup near Ukraine sows confusion over Russian intentions

Russia’s fortnight-long military buildup to the east and south of Ukraine has helped it mass an estimated 80,000 troops in the border region in an attention-grabbing exercise that is increasingly occupying western thinking. Tanks and other artillery units have also been arriving at Voronezh, east of Ukraine, according to Janes, a military intelligence firm, and a staging ground for about 3,000 troops been established to the south of the city. A nervous government in Kyiv says Russian forces in the Voronezh region number 40,000. It says a further 40,000 are now stationed in Crimea, which was seized in a surprise operation by Moscow in 2014.

“This movement stands out as possibly the largest unannounced movement of troops since Russia’s invasion of Crimea,” said Thomas Bullock, an analyst at Janes. He estimates that several thousand troops have arrived in the last fortnight from as far afield as Siberia to the east and the Estonian border in the north.

Nor is it just the size of the redeployment that has attracted attention. Its broad composition, including short-range ballistic missile systems, plus a strengthening of the Black Sea fleet, has many of the components of a force military experts say could attack Ukraine, with the possible exception of combat aircraft. ...

Few believe that immediate military action is likely. Security at the Voronezh staging post was sufficiently lax that journalists from Sky News were able to drive in, and if an attack was seriously meant then it would be more likely be conducted by surprise, according to Maryna Vorotnyuk, a research fellow at the Rusi thinktank.

Largest Chinese breach of Taiwan air zone in a year after US warning

Twenty-five Chinese military jets breached Taiwan’s defence zone on Monday, the island’s government has said, after a senior US official warned of an “increasingly aggressive” Beijing. The defence ministry scrambled aircraft to broadcast warnings to leave after Chinese jets, including 18 fighters, entered the island’s southwest air defence identification zone for a 10th straight day.

The incursion – the largest in a year – came after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on Sunday warned China not to attempt to change the status quo around Taiwan, saying to do so would be a “serious mistake”. Democratic, self-ruled Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which has vowed to one day seize the island, by force if needed.

On Friday the US state department said it would make it easier for US officials to meet Taiwanese representatives, defying pressure from China. The sabre-rattling has increased since the 2016 election of Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, who rejects the idea that the island is part of “one China”.

Some analysts and US military officials have said tensions between Taiwan and China are now at their highest since the mid-1990s.

Rights Advocates Concerned Over Biden Push to Increase Militarization of Borders in Central America

Human rights defenders expressed concern Monday after the Biden administration announced it reached agreements with Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala for those countries to boost their deployments of military forces to stop the flow migrants trying to make their way to the United States.

"I think the objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey and make crossing the borders more difficult," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

Psaki said that under the agreements—which were reached over recent weeks—Mexico will keep 10,000 troops at its southern border. Guatemala upped its number of police and military personnel to its southern border with Honduras to 1,500 and will put up 12 checkpoints along the country's migratory route, she said, while "Honduras surged 7,000 police and military to disperse a large contingent of migrants."

Tyler Moran, special assistant to the president for Immigration for the Domestic Policy Council, also spoke about the agreements in an interview with MSNBC earlier Mo